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Microsoft lets slip Windows 8 plans

Microsoft has let slip details about Windows 8, and its shiny new features. Click through to find out what they are

Microsoft has let slip details about Windows 8, the next incarnation of its operating system. New features include an app store, tablet support, cloud-based user accounts, faster start-up times and, as a bonus, some concept hardware.

Microsoft Kitchen got hold of a slideshow outlining the thinking behind Windows 8. Amusingly, the presentation includes a slide entitled 'How Apple does it'. In another slide, Microsoft distinguishes between Windows fanboys and mainstream consumers, or rather 'enthusiasts' and 'humans'.

One slide shows an all-in-one concept computer, to highlight Windows 8's hardware capabilities. The specs include a 17- to 30-inch display, DirectX graphics, high-definition video, and five-point multi-touch capability. Other features include voice control, a proximity sensor to wake the computer or put it to sleep, and face-recognition log-in. To wake your computer, you walk up to it, and, to log in, you simply look at the webcam and it will recognise your mug. Your account settings could be saved to the cloud, so a different Windows 8 machine could allow you to keep your settings.

Microsoft wants to halve the time it takes to fire up your computer too, using standby states and pre-fetching cache information.

Microsoft also identifies some trends shaping the development of Windows 8 (including an 'explosion of form factors'), as part of an ecosystem of hardware and software. It sounds like Windows 8 may link together your phone, tablet, netbook, laptop and desktop computer.

Windows 8 is still in the planning stages, so it will be a while before it replaces Windows 7. Hit us up in the comments section with the improvements you'd like to see in Windows 8.